Serial rapist may be behind attacks

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Police investigators and one of Norway’s leading experts on violence now appear fairly confident that at least one serial rapist is behind the rash of sexual assaults in Oslo this year. The national crime unit Kripos has joined the local police investigation, after the same DNA was detected in several rapes in various police districts.

That suggests the rapist may be on the move, and newspaper Dagsavisen reports that it’s the first time Kripos has taken part in the investigation of rape cases. They’re normally left to local police, but the wave of attacks suggests a mobile assailant creating a nationwide threat, which also can explain why local police have had trouble tracking down suspects.

Doubling of attacks
The number of reported rapes has more than doubled so far this year, to 52. Only seven men have been arrested and charged. Three of them are charged with more than one rape and with rapes continuing, police think other serial attackers are among those still on the loose.

“We don’t think there are 52 assailants behind the 52 rapes and attempted rapes,” Hanne Kristin Rohde of the Oslo Police District told Dagsavisen.

Ragnhild Bjørnebekk, known for her research into violence and what causes it, fears that the rapes will escalate if the attacker or attackers aren’t arrested soon. “They can get a kick out of not being discovered,” Bjørnebekk told Dagsavisen. “That creates extra excitement and tension for them, that can unleash more attacks.”

Risk-takers
The vicim of the rape late Saturday night near the Vaterland bridge downtown has told police that two men were involved, both with fair complexions and speaking Oslo dialect. The rape occurred only a few meters from the busy street Grønlandsleiret and close to a well-lit path through Vaterlandsparken.

“Rape can occur anywhere,” Bjørnebekk said. “Some rapists also get an extra kick out of the risk they take, that they can easily be discovered.”

She mentioned that unsolved rapes and media attention, like that dominating Norwegian media outlets at present, can also unleash more attacks because it “inspires” the serial rapist. It can also spark impulse attacks by others, she cautioned.

It’s unlikely public debate over how to stem the attacks will subside, or that Norwegian media will stop covering the crime wave. Meanwhile, a group of young men announced this week they were forming a civilian “alliance” to help escort women home and curb the rape wave. The group’s spokesman told newspaper Dagbladet they would “step in” and try to stop any attacks in progress that they encounter, but others were skeptical, fearing it could lead to a form of vigilante justice.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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